Bedform Alignment in Directionally Varying Flows

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Science  17 Jul 1987:
Vol. 237, Issue 4812, pp. 276-278
DOI: 10.1126/science.237.4812.276


Many kinds of sediment bedforms are presumed to trend either normal or parallel to the direction of sediment transport. For this reason, the trend of bedforms observed by remote sensing or by field observations is commonly used as an indicator of the direction of sediment transport. Such presumptions regarding bedform trend were tested experimentally in bidirectional flows by rotating a sand-covered board in steady winds. Transverse, oblique, and longitudinal bedforms were created by changing only two parameters: the angle between the two winds and the proportions of sand transported in the two directions. Regardless of whether the experimental bedforms were transverse, oblique, or longitudinal (as defined by the bedform trend relative to the resultant transport direction), they all had trends that yielded the maximum gross transport across the bedforms. The fact that many of the experimental bedforms were neither transverse nor parallel to the resultant transport direction suggests that transport directions cannot be accurately determined by presuming such alignment.